I'm in the Caribbean, I started working for a US company back in Jan 2020 as a contractor. He would pay every 2 weeks, and he said I could get a raise after seeing my work, I work full time, 40hrs/week.
A few times I asked him to send me a written contract, he never did it, as I was desperate I kept working despite that. He promised to help sponsor my visa to the US, but he hasn't done ANYTHING since he is the one who can make the first step. He found excuses like the 5,000$ fee etc. Then he would spend months until he finally pays some of what he owes, but I usually send him messages, he would lie about saying he will send it today or tomorrow or next week but never keep his word. One time I even had to stop working to force him to pay, he did manage to pay a small fraction of what he owed.
Recently he hasn't paid for months, amounting to 6 months of due payments. As he usually hires contractors for very short term to help on projects from India and had problems because of timezone issues etc. I had the idea to make a dev on-demand type of company, and he would be my first client, when I pitch him the idea, he insisted that I give them these local talents for a finder fee instead, I resisted until he agreed, but told me if this doesn't work out I will be held responsible, and ask if he can take the hire for himself if the company fails. Many time he tries to offer to build in office in the country that I will lead instead of me building my company.
I had one hire working for him, we agreed he would pay monthly with net 15 (within 15 days after that month of service). The hire has 1.5 weeks left before the net 15 ends. Meanwhile, he still refuses to pay, although he says he will, recently I stop working because of that, he slightly threat that he would find someone if I do that again, or I can walk away if I'm not satisfied, and business relationship will end, which mean that he won't deal with my company anymore, as he knows he's the first and only client, also his word: "if you "go work with someone else" then you are closer to leaving, so it pushes us further apart" which might imply that business relationship will end.
Since I have my company working with, our relationship has deteriorated more. He won't answer my messages when it comes to paying and still hasn't pay. I don't have much power to legally make him pay since we don't have a contract, and that would be expensive to sue him. He knows all those weaknesses. Recently I've been applying to other jobs, very hard since I'm in the poorest country in the Caribbean. I want to navigate my options here. I want to get paid most importantly, and I don't want that to end up in an ugly manner, the world is small, I still want my company to work with him, even if I plan to move to another company, also might have to collaborate with him.